Considering the tragic circumstances currently affecting Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) workers, you would expect prudent and progressive minded leaders of other agencies to take the necessary precautions to ensure their organisations are not hit by similarly deadly scandals.
Unfortunately, many leaders within our society, including some at the Ministry of Public Security (MoPS), do not view the human resource under their charge, as a valuable asset to invest in and care for.
Nearly one year ago a very senior member of the Permanent Secretary’s Office was engaged, in the presence of a senior representative from the Personnel Division of MoPS, about various issues plaguing workers.
Foremost on the agenda were the variety of health risks, some of which were life threatening, each category of workers was exposed to in the execution of their duties.
It was suggested that each worker be paid a risk allowance and environmental defects to the workspace be remedied. This was countered with a very insensitive remark by the member of PS’s office. She stated she cannot force anyone to stay and work in such an environment, that workers know the risks, and if they cannot put up with them they should leave.
On the surface this assertion may seem harsh but fair. Further consideration, however, reveals the cancer that affects the entire Public Service of Guyana. This flippant response to the concerns of workers by someone who can be considered their ‘boss’ shows: a total lack of empathy for the plight of staff; that she is willing to take advantage of the economic situation of Guyana.
She knows job opportunities in the land are few and workers are willing to put up with less than ideal situations to feed their families; someone who does not view her fellow human beings as the most important resource of a country. With persons like this in positions of power, is it a surprise that Guyana has the highest rate of migration of tertiary-educated individuals? Our nation will not develop with such attitudes! People will go where they feel valued!
There was some good news however! The ‘boss’, the senior member of the Permanent Secretary’s Office, stated bids were requested to correct building defects, which contribute to health risks. While this was good news at the time, nearly one year has elapsed and nothing much has been done to tangibly improve the working environment!
While it is understood that within the ‘government system’ some things take time, workers’ health should not be taken for granted. It seems as if this situation will not be treated urgently unless someone dies!
Throughout the meeting, not once did the representative from the Personnel Division utter a word in support of staff! The Personnel Department is not a tool to be used by the PS’s office or just to keep records intact. It should stand in solidarity with staff members when they are not being treated fairly within the work environment!
The human resource is indispensible to the operation of the MoPS. Treat them this way! Respect their health! Value their contributions!